Now that my kids are safely nestled in their respective schools, I am able to catch up on some of the things that I let slide over the summer. One area that needs a little attention in my abode is the menu-planning task.
This item on my “to-do” list is a big deal because I am aware that I have 1,095 opportunities to make a meal for my busy family, not including snacks or party foods. Since I am a planner by nature, plugging entrée choices into a weekly schedule is not a big deal but it seems that what I plan for at the beginning of the week may not always be a realistic choice on an unplanned, chaotic day.
In my home, the time between the end of school and the dinner hour is our busiest period of the day. We are attempting to transition from lively, active events into more focused, quiet activities. It seems that homework, chores and the extra tasks I am involved in all hit around that dinner preparation time. I peek at my menu planner and cross my fingers that I did not concoct a meal that requires hours of preparation, using every pan and utensil in my home.
To assist me in those crazy days, I developed my Quick Meal table. The Quick Meal table is a back-up list of menu items that can be prepared in a short time. I simply created a table with headings to include:
- Entrée – the main course
- Side Dish – possible additions to the meal
- Supplies – ingredients I need to keep on hand to prepare the entrée
- Source – the cookbook page or recipe source for the meal
This week I updated my list with new recipes so that my family will not run out of the house, screaming from boredom. Here is a small sample of my new Quick Meal table:
|Black bean quesadilla||Salad, corn||Flour tortilla, black refried beans, salsa sour cream||S.L. cookbook, page 46|
|Cheese and Veggie Omelet||Salad, fruit||Cheese, eggs or liquid whites, tomato, pepper, spinach||Me!|
|Turkey Meatballs||Whole wheat noodles, salad||Frozen turkey meat-balls, marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese||Me!|
|Fettuccine with Peas||Salad, sliced tomatoes||Fettuccine, frozen peas, butter, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese||R.M. cookbook, page 84|
I am sure you get the idea from this example. Once I completed the table, I printed it, slipped it in a plastic page protector and hung it inside my cupboard door. If I have recipes that are on a page rather than in a cookbook, I put the recipe in the protector also.
On grocery shopping days, I routinely check my above list to make sure I have items from the supplies column on hand. I admit, some of the meals may not be the most gourmet options, but it prevents me from fast food runs that have a lower nutritional factor and higher price tag.
I hope this Quick Meal table helps to jump start a menu back up plan of your own. What is your “go-to” back up meal plan on busy days?